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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Michael Barton shines for Arizona football despite loss to No. 24 Utah

Arizona+linebacker+Michael+Barton+%2811%29+dives+to+take+down+Utah+quarterback++Troy+Williams+%283%29+at+Rice-Eccles+Stadium+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+8.
Alex McIntyre
Arizona linebacker Michael Barton (11) dives to take down Utah quarterback Troy Williams (3) at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The Arizona football game in Utah didn’t go the way Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez and company would have liked. Linebacker Michael Barton, however, played the way he needed to give his team a chance to carry out the upset against the No. 24 Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.

The Wildcats battled Utah the second half of the game but started getting exposed and provided Utah with big play after big play en route to a 36-23 defeat.

Barton led the team in tackles and was a nuisance to the Utah offense all game. The senior graduate transfer from California has been as solid as they come at a linebacker position void of depth and talent.

Barton continued to fight for his team, jumping in on everything near the line of scrimmage. He finished with 12 tackles, seven solos and two for loss—one of the few bright spots for a defense trying desperately to help itself stay in games.

Jace Whittaker, the Wildcat sophomore from Oceanside, California, started out the game matching Barton’s level of intensity, registering five passes defensed in the first half. But just as the defense faded, so too did the play of the young defensive back.

RELATED: No. 24 Utah too much for Arizona football to maintain early lead, Wildcats fall to 2-4

Barton truly seemed to be the last man standing, and last man in the Arizona linebacking corps that truly seemed to be a force to be accounted for. DeAndre’ Miller was exposed in coverage, witnessed by a pass coverage breakdown to begin the second half as Utah quarterback Troy Williams connected with Cory Butler-Byrd for 69 yards. Paul Magloire Jr., the other would-be feature linebacker, has seen inconsistent time and has been nowhere near the productive player he was expected to be coming into the year.

This leaves Barton as the experienced old-head that leads by example and plays as hard as he can to try and get the defense—and for that matter, the program—back to a respectable standing for a Pac-12 Conference team.

RELATED: Khalil Tate takes advantage of another opportunity in rough night for Arizona quarterbacks

Barton took a personal foul penalty in the first half, which in most cases would’ve been inappropriate. This was not, it was a statement. And though the Wildcats lost, his passion was infectious and will hopefully carry over to other games this season.

The Wildcats next play at home against USC for Family Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 12:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. 


Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.


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